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Francoeur learning from tough 2008

Francoeur learning from tough 2008

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WASHINGTON -- Jeff Francoeur has been on a roll lately. The outfielder used four multi-hit performances to raise his average, from .190 to .333, over his last five games before the Braves began a series against the Nationals on Monday.

But Francoeur has learned some lessons from his troubles in 2008. He's working hard at keeping himself grounded and remembering that each day is a new one, no matter what happened before.

"Even last week, when I was at .190 or .200, I was relaxed," Francoeur said. "Things are going good right now, but I know, more than anybody else in here, probably, how bad things can go, too, compared to last year."

Francoeur had done well with the Braves in his 70-game stint in 2005 before playing in every game in both 2006 and 2007. But he struggled in 2008 and even went to Double-A Mississippi for three games. He finished with a .239 average, a 54-point drop from the year before.

"I realized that each day, you don't get too excited with what you did the day before," he said. "Yesterday's yesterday, and now I come out today with a new chance to do some things. You kind of put it behind you."

He's put everything behind him from last year. He leads the Braves in RBIs (10), hits (16), runs (eight) and total bases (25) after their first 12 games.

One of the big things is that he is putting the ball in play better. He recorded 111 strikeouts last year but just five in his first 48 at-bats this season.

"He's making solid contact all the time, not striking out, looks good," said manager Bobby Cox. "You've got to [move on] in this game. Every day's a new day."

Francoeur started quickly in 2009, homering off Brett Myers in his first at-bat this season, but fell back before making his recent run.

He's hit safely in 10 of his 12 games, with four multi-hit games in the last five. This comes after a solid Spring Training in which he hit .328 with 13 RBIs, and that good work has carried over.

"You stick with it, and you prepare the same every day," he said. "If I go out and get two hits, three hits, good. If I don't, at least I try to get on base, draw a walk and help the team."

He wants to avoid the problems of 2008, when everything seemed to go downhill fast. But he realizes now that keeping himself settled and focused will help him more in the long run.

"To me, it's being more consistent and just having fun," he said. "Last year I wasn't having a lot of fun. This year it's been fun."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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